Saturday, July 29, 2017

You can’t outsmart the pain

Moore’s research on the soul’s journey from misery to ecstasy teaches us:

The dark nights of the soul have many important gifts for us. Even the most deeply disturbing episodes can become precious moments of transformation. Painful restructuring experiences that force us to alter our basic views and values for the better. 

And so, the goal isn’t to give all our efforts and get the darkness off of ourselves in two weeks flat. Feeling cocky for having made it through the low successfully and quickly is nothing to brag about. 

It isn’t impressing anybody. It’s only robbing us of the chance to learn lessons and endure through the important changes the pain can make for us. 

Several years ago I was having coffee with my mentor, who was coaching me through a significant life transition. And she said something that I didn’t conceptualize at the time, but now I finally understand. 

During periods of transition and threshold, the urge to hang on is really strong. The tendency is to try to negotiate a deal. To replace one process for another. But that’s not transformation, that’s just change. 

If you truly want to lean into a radically different future, don’t try to finish too quickly. You can’t outsmart the process. And when you think you know your destination, then you’re on the wrong path. 

It’s like the overly ambitious, hyper competitive athlete who reluctantly finds himself on the disabled list. He’s so anxious to get back on his feet and take over his normal duties and feel like his old self again, that he pressures himself to recover from the injury too quickly. 

And as a result, he does a disservice to himself. He treats his feelings of despair and emptiness and pain as mere deviations from the normal and healthy life he idealizes. But as the aforementioned monk reminds us:

We don’t choose a dark night for ourselves. It is given to us. 

Our job is to get close to it and sift it for gold. 

Next time you’re knee deep in a painful restructuring experience, resist trying to resolve things too quickly. 

Take your time, and reward the time you take. 

And ask that universe binds up your wounded heart and gives you the wisdom to take things slowly. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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